Re: Reality check

John McCreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Wed, 3 Jul 1996 08:21:55 +0900

>>Maybe I'm missing something here, but does anyone necessarily agree that
>>Okazaki's diagnosis is accurate, i.e. that "indiscriminate egalitarianism"
>>exists in the Japanese education system (or that of any other modern
>>industrial nation-state)?
>One is tempted (tongue in cheek, of course) to ask how dare we challenge a
>"native"? This is a classic anthropological moment when we have to pause
>and ask ourselves, as Bill Loker as just done, what could Okazaki be
>saying, given the Japanese education is notoriously hierarchical, with
>schools at all levels sharply ranked and students at several points
>condemned to "examination hell" to determine the schools to which they
>will be accepted, assuming that they are accepted at all. The answer is
>actually straightforward. Okazaki is complaining about a uniform national
>system of elementary and secondary education which focuses on the ability
>to memorize a standard body of information and work cooperatively in
>groups and has no special tracks for either the gifted or the handicapped.
>The system is indiscriminately egalitarian in what it offers to students,
>while also rigidly hierarchical in how it sorts them out. The result,
>Okazaki believes, is a population with a high average standard of
>education, well-adapted to work in classical industrial and bureaucratic
>settings, that may, however, be lacking in the creative spice a postmodern
>market demands in the software that accounts for a growing share of

John McCreery
3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama 220, JAPAN

"And the Lord said unto Cyrus, 'Shall the clay say to him who moldest it,
what makest thou? Let the potsherd of the earth speak to the potsherd of
the earth." --An anthropologist's credo